(RNS) The priest who headed a leading treatment center for clergy suffering from emotional, sexual and addiction problems has resigned in the wake of accusations that he misused funds in his home diocese and that he was engaged in an “inappropriate adult relationship.”
Saint Luke Institute, located just outside Washington, said Monday that Monsignor Edward J. Arsenault had resigned as president and CEO of the center.
Over the past two decades, the institute became well known for treating priests who had sexually abused children. The center deals primarily with priests, nuns and brothers who have a range of other issues, such as depression, anxiety, and addictive behaviors.
Arsenault took over at Saint Luke’s in 2009 after a decade as a senior official in the Diocese of Manchester, which covers the state of New Hampshire.
Arsenault’s sudden departure came as the diocese – which is still responsible for guaranteeing his bona fides as a priest – announced that earlier this year it had received allegations of “a potentially inappropriate adult relationship” involving Arsenault. It said that a further investigation “discovered evidence suggesting improper financial transactions by Msgr. Arsenault involving diocesan funds.”
Because the financial allegations are potentially criminal, the diocese reported them to the state attorney general’s office, which has opened its own investigation.
The diocese said Arsenault has been suspended from public ministry but provided no further details on the allegations.
“I am committed to reviewing our internal diocesan operations to ensure that any issues are identified and corrected, as necessary,” Manchester Bishop Peter A. Libasci said in a statement on Monday. “We will do this in the light of day. In the meantime, we will be cooperating fully with the Attorney General’s investigation.”
The Saint Luke Institute, based in Silver Spring, Md., said in a statement that the investigations do not involve Saint Luke Institute.
It said that the previous head of Saint Luke’s, Monsignor Stephen J. Rossetti, would serve as interim president; Sheila Harron, who has been on staff for 18 years, will be the interim CEO.
“This is very difficult news, and we are keeping this situation in prayer,” Harron said. “Saint Luke Institute has been in the process of expanding education and services nationally. We are committed to continuing to move forward, to providing high quality care for priests and religious, and to supporting a culture of healthy ministry in the Church.”